Book chapter

Noblesse et bon naturel chez les lecteurs du Liber de bona fortuna de Thomas d'Aquin à Duns Scot : histoire d'un rapprochement


  • 2016
Published in:
  • Alessandro Palazzo, Francesca Bonini, Andrea Colli (ed.), La nobilità nel pensiero medievale. - Fribourg, Academic Press, 2016. - 2016, vol. Dokimion, 41, p. 99-134
English In the history of ideas on nobility, the turn of the 14th century has already been held up (in particular by Maaike van der Lugt) as a time when a hereditary concept of nobility and the notion of “noble blood” were developed based on the naturalist anthropology at work in the biological and zoological writings of Aristotle, by then available in Latin. The Philosopher’s ethical texts, which too were “rediscovered” in the 13th century, also contributed to reflections on nobility, but in disparate and diverse ways depending on the terms or expressions considered. One interesting case of semantic enrichment can be traced back to the expressions denoting the “well born” man (bene natus, bene naturatus). In studying this case, it should be remembered that for Aristotle “nobility” and the “natural good” referred to distinct concepts which were only occasionally associated with one another and never considered to be linked other than accidentally. And so the assimilation of these concepts into a certain mediaeval tradition, particularly in the work of Dante, was in no way an inevitability and needs to be studied in its historic dimension. It is with this in mind that I propose an analysis of how these two concepts were interpreted by readers of Liber de bona fortuna (text compiled around 1265 from extracts of Magna Moralia and the Eudemian Ethics). Using recent research on the manuscript tradition and reception of this treatise, I trace how this text gave rise to developments through which the figure of the “well born” man was – at the same time – likened to that of the “noble” (nobilis) man and invested with a meaning that had in fact never been attributed to either of these two expressions.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Philosophie
  • French
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